The Platypod Grip: A Macro Oil and Water Shoot with Bob Coates

Words by Bob Coates - A Platypod Pro
Edited by Eryka Bagwell

"They say that oil and water don’t mix… well, they are correct. But, that’s what makes photographing them together such a fun project. This is a great set-up anytime. Even better when you are stuck inside on a rainy day and are looking for something to do on the creative side."

(Above: Oil and water set with iPad below to provide the abstract background)

The set:
"There are a number of ways to do this set but I’ve found this one to be the best in my opinion. Start with a sheet of glass. I take a bit of painters tape and cover the edges for protection from cuts, but also to visually define the edge to keep from bumping the glass. Suspend the glass with your choice of material. You can use boxes of the same size, books, or in my case, a couple of plastic milk crates. Having the glass raised allows you to add color in various ways underneath. You can use a large glass baking dish as well. You could leave out the sheet of glass but I’ve found it helpful in protecting the lights and tablet underneath. And trust me, you’ll want to do that with the oily liquid floating around."

(Above: Overall set using an eXtreme, three Handles, two Ultras, two Arms, two LED Panels, Benro Ballhead and the Platypod Grip)

"For this shoot, I used the iPhone 15 Pro in 'Macro' mode. The camera/phone is cradled in the Platypod Grip. A single knob allows for lots of adjustment. In this case, I used three Platypod Handles to get a straight down shot over the water and oil mixture. A Platypod eXtreme was clamped to the table. Two Handles were mounted to get the height. A single Handle could be used if the glass shelf was lower. A Benro ballhead was next with another Handle. At the top of the Handle I placed The Grip. And, of course, the Grip holds the iPhone 15 Pro."

(Above: Close up of The Grip mounted on top of a Handle)

Black base background:
"For a rich color I use a black base lit with LED panel lights. While it might be counter-intuitive, using black for the base makes for deep vibrant base colors. You can dial in whatever color floats your boat with the LED panels. You can work with one light but having two will also allow more experimentation blending multiple colors. It is all about the experimentation!"

iPad or Tablet background:
"An extremely versatile way to color your set is to place a Tablet or iPad underneath your water container. The container gets filled with water and then you can use cooking or other types of oil. The oil will bead up taking on different shapes as it moves through the water. You can stir it or blow across the water to get an endless changing of the mixture."

Yours in Creative Photography,
Bob Coates - A Platypod Pro


You can view more of Bob Coates' work by visiting his website and/or his Instagram page.

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